Matthew Marshall, BAYARENA – Bayer Leverkusen were given a reality check at the BayArena as Bayern Munich came away with a 5-1 victory in the Topspiel. The damage had been done in the opening 45 minutes, the Bavarians scoring four goals in a seven minute stretch to cruise to a 5-0 half time lead.
Robert Lewandowski scored the opening two goals, Thomas Müller adding the third with Serge Gnabry bagging a brace of his own. Florian Wirtz provided Patrik Schick with a consolation goal in the 55th minute, but it was too little late from the Werkself who have some serious soul searching to do.
First half thrashing
It took only three minutes for Bayern Munich to take the lead at the BayArena. Joshua Kimmich’s free kick found Dayot Upamecano completely unmarked, he directed the ball towards goal where Robert Lewandowski produced a clever finish past Lukas Hrádecky.
Bayer Leverkusen were getting into promising positions but the final ball was continually lacking.
The Bavarians turned on the pressure, started to dominate and it appeared only a matter of time before they extended their lead. Leroy Sané hit the post in the 19th minute, Alphonso Davies saw his shot saved and Leon Goretzka wasted a great opportunity as his shot was easily saved by Hrádecky.
The Werkself won a succession of corners, Jonathan Tah heading over the bar, but Manuel Neuer was yet to be tested.
FC Bayern doubled their lead in the 30th minute, the result of a perfectly executed fast break. Davies surged into the box and lost possession, but only as far as Lewandowski who made no mistake from close range.
The chances kept coming for Julian Nagelsmann’s side. Goretzka couldn’t direct Sané’s free kick on target and Lewandowski’s shot was deflected for a corner from which Bayern made it 3-0.
Kimmich found Niklas Süle unmarked at the back post, he stepped inside Tah with his shot taking a deflection off Thomas Müller and past a helpless Hrádecky.
Less than 60 seconds later it was 4-0. Jeremie Frimpong lost possession, Müller cross picking out Serge Gnabry who got in front of Tah and a directed a deft flick past Hrádecky.
Leverkusen were being hopelessly outplayed and their ability to stop Bayern in transition was non-existent. When they lost possession, which was happening with alarming frequency, there was simply nobody in midfield to stop Bayern launching a dangerous attack.
It happened again in the 37th minute as FC Bayern scored their fifth goal. Upamecano broke clear, Gnabry exchanging a neat 1-2 with Lewandowski before firing past Hrádecky.
Sané fired a volley over the bar as Leverkusen ended the half with two tame efforts, Moussa Diaby and Frimpong firing straight at Neuer.
Gerardo Seoane introduced Edmond Tapsoba for Paulinho at the break as Leverkusen switched to a back three. Marcel Sabitzer replaced Leon Goretzka for the Bavarians.
Sané saw another shot saved but the hosts were competing and starting to create chances.
A nice move resulted in Kerem Demirbay testing Neuer before the Werkself got on the score sheet. Florian Wirtz sent Patrik Schick through on goal, his shot beating Bayern’s No.1 and going in via the inside of the post.
The rest of the match was largely uneventful with the result beyond doubt.
Süle headed Sané’s free kick wide, Sabitzer tried his luck from distance and Sané headed Josip Stanisic’s cross over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Sabitzer fired over the bar, Kimmich shot wide and Kingsley Coman forced a save from Hrádecky. but it was job done for Bayern Munich who showed once again that they are the best team in Germany.
Horror show in midfield
With Julian Baumgartlinger, Charles Aránguiz and Exequiel Palacios injured with Robert Andrich suspended, Gerardo Seoane partnered Kerem Demirbay with Nadiem Amiri in central midfield.
They were totally overrun. Leon Goretzka frequently pushed up next to Thomas Müller, Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry were cutting inside and Seone couldn’t stop the onslaught before the break.
His decision to introduce Edmond Tapsoba for Paulinho and switch to a back three played a part in stopping the onslaught.
With 16-year-old Zidan Sertdemir his only recognised midfielder on the bench, he even pushed Odilon Kossounou into midfield after Panagiotis Retsos came off the bench.
Honeymoon period over for Seoane
Gerardo Seoane has been rightfully been getting plenty of praise after a positive start to his first season in charge of the Werkself. This was huge reality check, despite the problems caused by having four midfielders unavailable.
His switch to a back three at the break provided more solidity and Kossounou’s move into defensive midfield could be an option in the future.
The first half was simply a horror show however. It was schoolboy stuff from Bayer Leverkusen who were losing individual battles all over the pitch and vanishing in transition.
This will probably be a case of short term pain for long term gain, as Seoane will learn a lot from this defeat that will help him and his side for the remainder of the season.
Statement victory for FC Bayern
We have seen this all before in the Bundesliga, a team having a great start and dreaming of a title challenge only to be shot down in flames by the power of Bayern Munich.
They came into the contest level on 16 points, but it was men against boys in the first half with the hosts resembling a schoolboy team.
It’s a familiar story, but that shouldn’t diminish Bayern’s performance. Nagelsmann’s game plan was executed to perfection in the opening 45 minutes, which meant he could rest key players before taking on Benfica in the Champions League.
The versatility provided by players including Lucas Hernández, Niklas Süle, Leon Goretzka, Jamal Musiala, Marcel Sabitzer and Serge Gnabry means Nagelsmann can chop and change to suit the occasion.
The way Bayern pass the ball out of tight areas in their defensive third is impressive. They have complete confidence in their s ability to control the ball, keep it moving and find a way through the opposition.